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RED: del kathryn barton at Art Gallery of South Australia

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by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
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Arouse your senses with RED
RED is a short film that draws the viewer into a spider's web of death and desire.

RED begins and ends with extreme close-ups of a red back spider. If you are squeamish about spiders, this will be very confronting. The footage shifts to a stylish suited Cate Blanchett holding a very large pair of scissors in each hand. She then proceeds to cut herself out of the suit and emerge as a spider that lures a handsome and willing male to a courtship and then his death. The male red back spider is eaten alive after the sex act.

Cate Blanchett in RED
Cate Blanchett in RED


The senses are aroused as the screen flashes emotive words in huge black taped letters. Mother. Father. Death. Daughter. All to a churning beat. A dancer then appears in red latex to gyrate and take over the screen. The dance sequence is by Sydney Dance Company's Charmene Yap, giving a manic charge to the film. RED is visually lush with surrealistic images blending to form an immersive experience. The screening room is pitch black and the audience can sit on bench seats or bean bags.

Del Kathryn Barton, Australia, born 1972, For the feeling, 2011, Sydney, synthetic polymer paint, gouache, watercolour and ink on canvas, 240.0 x 360.0 cm; Gift of the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2011
Del Kathryn Barton, Australia, born 1972, For the feeling, 2011, Sydney, synthetic polymer paint, gouache, watercolour and ink on canvas, 240.0 x 360.0 cm; Gift of the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2011


The film was created and directed by Del Kathryn Barton, a leading figurative painter. She explains the work as drawing on her obsession with fertility and the psychology of relationships. The artist has worked with Cate Blanchett in the past, painting Cate's portrait with her children. Cate has a sensual presence that is provocative and alluring. The short film is overlayed with beautifully filmed images of the natural world, even the spiders manage to look beautiful. The film progresses to images of a young female, the daughter, played by the artist's real life daughter, Arella.

RED immediately engages the viewer with the massive full-screen images of a red back spider. It doesn't look back as the screen turns to gloriously lurid red frames. In words, sound and image this has been crafted to expose the viewer to contemplate female power. That potent mix of sex, motherhood and death. I couldn't look away.

Art Gallery of SA in North Terrace, Adelaide
Art Gallery of SA in North Terrace, Adelaide


This 15 minute film was commissioned as part of the very successful 2017 Adelaide Festival. RED runs from Thursday 26 January to Sunday 30 April at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Gallery 9. Free Admission.
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Why? Arouse your senses with RED
When: RED runs from Thursday 26 January to Sunday 30 April
Where: Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide
Cost: Free Admission
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